True warriors, real heroes; Sharing their company all these years

  • Published
  • By Perry Jenifer
  • 8
I'm no warrior, no hero. The only uniforms I've ever worn were those of a Boy Scout, football and softball player.

Believing you don't have to be one to know one makes me confident I can recognize
true warriors, real heroes, when I see them. I've been sharing their company going on 22 years now.

From my vantage point as a civilian employee of the Air Force, those two words --warriors and heroes -- are interchangeable. Putting on the uniform of an Airman, Marine, Sailor or Soldier, as active duty, reservist or guardsman, is an heroic act any time. In time of war, it raises heroism to a new, higher level.

In wars past, the term warrior was reserved for those who served under fire and on the front lines. The fire might've come from German tri-planes over France in 1917, Japanese battleships in the South Pacific in 1944 or AK-47 assault rifles in the hands of Chinese infantrymen in Korea in 1951. The front lines were actually out front and clearly identified on any map. 

If you belonged to a support unit somewhere "in the rear," you were beneath warrior status. Your duties may have been vital to the warriors' ability to carry the fight to the enemy, but you could never be considered one of them. If you couldn't be counted as a warrior, you certainly weren't hero material. 

I didn't say I buy into this twisted line of logic, only that it existed. 

How our wars have changed. 

In Iraq and Afghanistan, the enemy is everywhere, so the front lines are everywhere and our people -- not only those in so-called "combat" units, but all of our people -- are under fire everywhere. 

Think back over American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. They've included men and women from just about every career field in the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy. 

The stakes are high, too, and not only for these war-torn countries half a world away. Today, our enemies have the will and wherewithal to strike us where we live ... literally, where we live. Sept. 11, 2001, made this painfully clear. 

So today, when someone puts on one of our military uniforms, they become -- by definition -- a warrior, a hero, in my book.

Did I mention they're all volunteers?